Featured Instructor of the Month: Nita B Yellowcakes

Nita B Yellowcakes is a multi-talented NYC/New Jersey-based Liquid Motion instructor. She teaches at Pole to Pole Fitness (NYC) and Alter Ego Pole Fitness (NJ). She is also an ElevatED Certified Pole Dance Instructor and Twerk Technician. Teaching and Performing is her passion.

1. You’ve been certified in the Liquid Motion in all three levels, all within less than a year! Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion.

I got started with Liquid Motion a few years ago. I believe it was later 2015 at Body & Pole. At first, I just wanted to try a new and, what I thought would be easy, class in between my pole training, but it was not easy at all. The Liquid methodology really helped me find so much freedom on the floor.

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

My motto is “Everyone has a different journey. Take your time; live YOUR life.” It’s so important to remember that we can’t compare ourselves to others. We should appreciate our movement journeys just as much as we appreciate other’s.

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

My most rewarding teaching experience is watching a student absolutely live their lives during their freestyles– incorporating their own styles with what was taught in the lesson. I love to watch them explore the movement pathways on their own. Seeing that makes me internally yell, “Yaaass!”

4. What has been your biggest struggle in your teaching journey?

The biggest struggle in my Liquid Motion teaching journey has been teaching fresh new movers not to get frustrated when they feel they’re not “looking sexy.” I have to remind them that Liquid Motion isn’t about looking sexy, but about using the tools to tap in one’s sensuality and connectedness of movement. They have to first do the work and make Liquid whatever they want it to be. I recall my own experiences to explain how worrying too much about a finished product, or looking like the people around you, can hinder your growth.

5. You also teach pole classes in addition to Liquid Motion. Do you find that the Liquid Motion methodology helps with other modalities, either as a student or as an instructor?

YES! As both a student and an instructor, it helps to improve fluidity on the pole, and in floor-to-pole transitions. It helps with awareness of movement pathways on the pole.

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey? Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

My personal goals are to remain honest in my movement, even when learning new tricks and transitions on the pole and floor. I LOVE strength-based tricks, but I very much enjoy slinking around the pole. Liquid Motion helped encourage me to take my time to further explore even different ways to walk around the pole.

7. How do you prepare mentally for your own movement sessions and/or performances? How do you “get in the mood” and find the right head space to dance freely?

I prepare for my own movement sessions by making sure I’m dressed with the appropriate layers (or lack thereof) to get the most out of the movement –that way I can slide, slink or stick as needed for the exercises or choreography. I get in the mood by listening to vibe music just before class (Sexy vibes for sensual movement class, Upbeat Club Vibes for heels and twerk). My playlist goes from 80s rock hits to Meg Thee Stallion. The last thing I do is clear my mind and walk in, or on stage, with the only expectation being to take it all in and enjoy the experience, regardless of the outcome.

8. Do you have any hidden talents?

Haha. I can sing, and I do a few impressions. lol. Yea, I’m a dork.

9. You are very active in the pole community, between teaching, performing, and networking on social media. Do you have any tips for aspiring or new instructors who are hoping to build a supportive community for themselves?

My advice would be to make sure they’re true to themselves and their dance styles. Love and embrace your style and share your content with honesty. Also, follow and engage with movers you’re influenced by, as well as those you influence. Follow your students’ journeys and growth! Social media can be great when we filter it down to the content that we truly find interesting. I love to share and grow with the dance community.

10. In one sentence, share a life lesson you’ve learned – maybe a piece of advice that you’ve always held onto or a random comment you heard in passing that stuck with you. What do you think everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime?

“The most rewarding thing is to be loved simply for being yourself, and not for what you think people expect you should be.”

 

Featured Instructor of the Month: Andrea Plummer

Andrea is a certified Liquid Motion 1.0 & 2.0 instructor currently teaching at The Dollhouse Fitness in San Diego, California. She is a proud military spouse and mom to two rambunctious and sweet kids.

1. You’ve been certified in the Liquid Motion training program for almost a year now! Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion.

I ran across Jeni’s videos on Instagram early in my pole journey and was like “I want to move like THAT!” There was nothing forced about her movement, and it just made sense to me – even if I had no idea what the moves were. I started taking Liquid Motion classes at my studio in Virginia at the time and loved the whole feeling of the class. After taking a few workshops from Jeni, I knew I had to get certified – even if I didn’t teach. I just wanted to know more. It took a while for the stars to align (pregnancy, moving across country, LIFE happening) but luckily I was able to get certified last year and felt it was the best thing I’ve done for my personal movement journey to date.

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

I definitely like to have a lot of fun in class, and I also I firmly believe in challenging my students. My students will tell you that I often remind them that if they understand and can do every move in a class, they’re in the wrong class. That is one of the things I love about Liquid Motion – there are ALWAYS new ways to challenge yourself even with moves you think you already know how to do. My other motto: When in doubt, split it out.

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

I recently had a student tell me that she loves my classes because I teach in a way that helps her understand the moves, so she can make them her own. She said now the moves are truly hers. What could be more rewarding as a teacher than your students taking what you’ve given them and making it uniquely theirs? It was a happy tear moment.

4. What has been your biggest struggle in your teaching journey?

My biggest struggle in my teaching journey has been learning to balance teaching with my personal practice. As a teacher I want to give my students everything to make them successful, but I have to leave room for my own practice if I want to continue to grow as a dancer and as a person. While I have grown through teaching in ways I probably wouldn’t have as a student, I absolutely need to take time to refill my cup as a student. It keeps me centered, happy, prevents overuse injury, and inspires me to keep creating and trying new things.

5. You also teach pole classes in addition to Liquid Motion. Do you find that the Liquid Motion methodology helps with other modalities, either as a student or as an instructor?

It absolutely does! The Fundamentals and Techniques are not limited to the floor. I have a healthy sense of self-preservation so as a student I need to know where all my body parts are and what they’re doing during a pole sequence! Understanding those techniques helps me break down pole combos so I understand what is happening and why instead of flinging myself up a pole and hoping for the best. I also find that the methodology helps me perfect my moves. For me it’s not enough to just do a move. I want to do a move, however simple and straightforward, really really well…and be able to add my own pieces of flare to it.

As a pole instructor, knowing the Liquid Motion methodology helps me explain to my students WHY we’re placing our hand/leg/elbow pit a certain way in a move. It helps my students to understand how to execute a move/combo safely, and helps them to pick up the class choreography quicker.

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey? Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

My goal is to keep dancing for the rest of my life. I don’t want to wake up one day with an injury that sidelines me from pole and dance and have that be it. With social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest fad and want to do all the new pole and floor tricks whether our bodies are really ready for it or not. One of the things I most appreciate about Liquid Motion is that rather than chasing the latest fancy move, it focuses on understanding technique to make any move special. This allows many movements to be readily accessible to a wide variety of students, and helps a person to quickly identify if a particular move is not going to be their move today.

7. What’s your all-time favorite song or musician that makes you want to get Liquid?

I’m a Gemini – don’t make me choose! 🙂 I love so many songs and artists and feel that Liquid is not limited to a certain genre of music. My current top two are “Honey,” by Sebastian Roca, and “Do It For Me,” by Rosenfeld. I’d also never pass up an opportunity to get Liquid to Janet Jackson!

8. Do you have any hidden talents?

I can get a healthy nutritious dinner on the table for two kids in under 30 minutes – trust me, it’s a talent! Also, a lifetime ago, I was a figure skater.

9. You have quite a following at your home studio. The instructors and students really admire you! Do you have any tips for aspiring or new instructors who are hoping to build a supportive community like yours?

Awwww… That makes me feel really good! I’ve been very lucky to have the full support of The Dollhouse Fitness management team, and it created a strong foundation from the beginning. I’d say if you are looking to start teaching Liquid Motion, make sure to talk with the studio/gym owner and/or manager to ensure they understand what a Liquid Motion class is, and how you envision it fitting into their mission and current curriculum. I also really took to heart the idea that a Liquid Motion class is an experience, and part of that experience is ME: my strengths, my shortcomings, my quirky anecdotes, music, and my swear words – uh… I mean “unconventional cueing.” 😉 I try to show through my words and actions that part of learning is experimenting, trying new things, and not always being successful. It helps create a safe, supportive environment for students to express themselves un-apologetically through movement.

10. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out the Liquid Motion class for the first time or thinking about taking a Liquid Motion certification?

If you are thinking about signing up for a class or certification, come with an open mind. Liquid Motion can be both physically challenging and mentally stimulating. Not everything is going to be everyone’s move, but that doesn’t mean you should pass on the opportunity to learn and grow. And of course, DO IT – don’t wait! I missed the opportunity to get certified in Virginia because at the time I thought I wasn’t good enough – how ridiculous was that! It was another four years before things worked out for me to take the certification – so don’t wait. Do it. Be ready to be humbled, to learn, and to have a great time!

11. In one sentence, share a life lesson you’ve learned – maybe a piece of advice that you’ve always held onto or a random comment you heard in passing that stuck with you. What do you think everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime?

“There is enough spotlight for all of us to shine.”

Featured Instructor of the Month: Nicole Braun

Nicole Braun has been poling for 7 years and instructing for almost 3 years. She teaches pole and Liquid Motion at Flirt Fitness and is Pole Moves Level 1-3 certified and Liquid Motion 1.0, 2.0 & Heels certified. She is also a married stay at home mom of 3 kids and 4 fur kids. Her background is in the performing arts including a BFA from Central Michigan University and MFA from Wayne State University.

1. You’ve been certified in all three levels of the Liquid Motion training program. Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion and why you chose to take advantage of taking all three certification levels.

I had just become an instructor when the Liquid Motion 1.0 certification was coming through my studio. I immediately signed up to give myself an opportunity to teach more at the studio and give myself a leg up. I immediately fell in love with the movement style and I’ve been teaching it ever since.

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

I firmly believe that everyone can find joy and freedom in movement. I don’t believe that we should measure our successes in the ability to do a certain trick or move. You should measure your success in the joy that movement brings you.

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

Anytime a student tells me that my class has made a difference in their self image and confidence I feel fulfilled. The benefits of dance are just as much mental as it is physical.

4. What has been your biggest struggle in your teaching journey?

I have to constantly remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing ourselves to others is something I discourage my students from doing but we as instructors often need to be reminded of it just as often.

5. You just recently celebrated your 7th year in the pole world! Do you find that the Liquid Motion methodology helps with other modalities, either as a student or as an instructor?

My pole abilities significantly improved as my understanding of the Liquid Motion methodology grew. I began to use the same fundamentals on the pole as on the ground and my progress skyrocketed. I strongly encourage pole students to take Liquid Motion to become better movers!

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey? Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

I aim to have new goals for my personal movement every year. This year I’m dedicated to becoming more confident in my heels thanks to recently becoming Liquid Heels certified. The Heels certification was wonderful and I want to continue to build on that knowledge and bring it to my students.

7. What’s your all-time favorite song or musician that makes you want to get Liquid?

A personal favorite is Two Feet. He has a sexy, bluesy, dark feel that makes me want to get on the floor as soon as I hear it!

8. Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.

I worked as a theatre costumer and designer in college.

9. You have an incredibly loyal and encouraging group of students and colleagues at your studio. They clearly love you! Do you have any tips for aspiring or new instructors who are hoping to build a clientele and a supportive community like yours?

Make yourself as well rounded as possible. Take all the certifications and workshops you can. Be yourself and love who you are as a dancer and others will appreciate you for what you can bring to the community.

10. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out the Liquid Motion class for the first time or thinking about taking a Liquid Motion certification?

Don’t think about it, just go for it. Liquid is for everyone!

11. In one sentence, share a life lesson you’ve learned – maybe a piece of advice that you’ve always held onto or a random comment you heard in passing that stuck with you. What do you think everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime?

You will only regret the risks you didn’t take.

 

Featured Instructor of the Month: X2C

X2C is a graceful professional pole fitness and Liquid Motion instructor who possesses a great feeling for music and enjoys being able to express herself creatively through movement. She teaches at Vertical Joe’s in Atlanta, Georgia.

1. You’ve been certified in all three levels of the Liquid Motion training program. Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion and why you chose to take advantage of taking all three certification levels.

I took a sampler class at with Jeni when it was still in the early stages at PoleCon. I fell in love with Jeni’s passion for the movement and teaching style. I never wanted the class to end.

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

I believe that each student has a master key to unlock their potential. My job as the instructor is to show them how to use that key and open as many doors as possible.

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

When the students say they wish they had more time in class to learn more. “Class is over already???”

4. What has been your biggest struggle in your teaching journey?

Being able to practice more for me!!! I want to LIVE on the floor to make myself a better performer and instructor. Teaching so many classes and having a full-time job makes this rather difficult.

5. You’ve taught pole dance classes for over a decade. Do you find that the Liquid Motion methodology helps with other modalities, either as a student or as an instructor?

YES to both!!! Liquid Motion methodology has improved my body awareness whether my movement is on the floor, walking the halls at work, or on the pole. I have learned to let the movement go all the way through my body and move with it.

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey?

To make my movements look effortless.

Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

Of course, I am a natural “slow mover” and have always been one to engage and draw in my audience when I perform or execute moves. The methodology for Liquid Motion has allowed me to hone those skills and become even better by making them look smooth.

7. What’s your all-time favorite song that makes you want to get Liquid?

This question is not fair!! I have soooo many, but when I do a demo, I am usually dancing to “Body” by Syd or “Breathe” by Ne-Yo. Perfect tempo for my flow and has lots of intentional pockets within the music to take advantage of.

8. Do you have any hidden talents?

My brain is wired to solve word puzzles in record time. I can look at scrambled words and tell you what the word is in seconds.

9. As a senior instructor, do you have any tips for any aspiring or new instructors who may be reading this?

To be an effective teacher, you should have a good understanding of what you are teaching, be comfortable and confident with how to present the information, and know how to apply it to a diverse client base of all levels and learning styles. You must also be willing to be a student yourself! My clients love when I come back from a workshop, convention, or certification because they know they will be getting something new.

10. One of the things we love about you is that you know how to get things done. You don’t waste time and you always jump at the opportunity to help others. What’s your biggest source of motivation?

Thank you! I enjoy helping others be better. I also have several mentors and work with one of the best in the industry, Torwa Joe aka FiyaStarta, and they have always been so selfless with sharing what they know so that I could be better. At the end of the day, we are a brand, we are family, and we are stronger when we work together.

11. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out the Liquid Motion class for the first time or thinking about taking a Liquid Motion certification?

I would tell them to release all per-conceived ideas you have about floorwork at the door. Allow your mind and your body to go on a journey that you never want to return from.

12. In one sentence, share a life lesson you’ve learned – maybe a piece of advice that you’ve always held onto or a random comment you heard in passing that stuck with you. What do you think everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime?

Advice I heard that stuck with me…”show up and stay consistent” and everyone should hear at least once is that they inspired someone.

Featured Instructor of the Month: Suset Rosario

Suset Rosario (Healgirl) currently teaches at All Souls UU Church every Friday in Colorado Springs, CO. Her passion is getting everyone moving, whether it’s with Liquid Motion, hula hooping, or yoga. She believes movement should be inclusive to everyone from able to disabled, young and old. There’s something for everyone in the Liquid Motion curriculum!

1. You’ve been certified in all three levels of the Liquid Motion training program. Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion and why you chose to take advantage of taking all three certification levels.

I started taking Liquid Motion classes in 2016 and fell in love with how accessible it was for someone like myself. I have no dance background and suffer from MS and fibromyalgia. I decided that I wanted to share this movement methodology and signed up for all three certifications this year. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and teach!

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

     My teaching philosophy is one of inclusiveness. If I can, you can, even if you need to modify at first. There’s something for everyone in the Liquid Motion curriculum! 

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

My most rewarding teaching experience was having my students follow me from one studio to another. Seeing my value in their lives, seeing the value of what I teach gives me great joy!

4. What has been your biggest struggle in your teaching journey?

 My biggest struggle in my teaching journey was being a sensual movement instructor at a studio that did not value my certifications and experience. I finally found the courage to leave (with a bit of pushing from Jeni and Mel Heins) and I couldn’t be happier! 

5. You’re very passionate about teaching Liquid Motion. How do you help spread that passion to your students and light a fire for them? Do you have any tips for aspiring instructors?

    I love showing students where foundational movement can take them and how they can progress in their journey by demonstrating where I started and where Liquid Motion has taken me in my own movement journey. To see the excitement in their faces when they see what they can achieve with commitment and determination gets me even more pumped to teach! My advice to aspiring instructors is to find a mentor, (mine is Kismet Kanatous) and learn how to be a better instructor by continuing your education after getting certified.

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey? Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

My goal is to polish up my technique when it comes to dance in general. I am proficient when it comes to movement that involves a lot of strength and flexibility. Shoulder stands and elbow jades came easy to me, but my dancing in general needs work. Liquid Motion has given me the blueprint to help strengthen my weaknesses by making technique accessible. 

7. What’s your all-time favorite song that makes you want to get Liquid?

  I don’t have just one, I have a playlist full of faves that get me daydreaming about choreography and make me want to dance, including: ASAP by Gia Koda (ft. Danny Seth), I’d Love To Change The World by Jetta, Unstable by Janine, and Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard 

8. Do you have any hidden talents?

 I have a few actually! I’m a certified chef classically trained in Italian cuisine. I am fluent in Spanish and can communicate well in Italian. I am also a hoopdance instructor and can hula hoop with the best of them. I am a proficient gardener and normally have a few thousand plants, including fruits, veggies, and flowers in my garden during the warmer months. I’ve also run a marathon and multiple Spartan races. 

9. You have been very open and vocal about your struggles with your own health. Why do you think it’s important to share your truth on social media?

Visibility matters to so many who don’t feel they’re not being represented or those who feel isolated due to disability and chronic illness. My hope is that people with chronic illnesses see my experiences dealing with MS and fibromyalgia and find that their life does not have to be limited because of their condition. Advocating for the disability community is one of my passions, and showing them how Liquid Motion can make movement accessible is something that has made me want to further my education within the Liquid Motion curriculum so that I can then share this wonderful methodology with them!

10. What’s your biggest source of motivation? What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?

      I have four kids ages 1, 7, 10, and 16 years of age. I want to be an example to them of what you can do with your life when you’re passionate and committed. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis exactly 7 years ago, since then I have been determined to not let this dictate my quality of life. These are the biggest factors that motivate and push me daily. 

11. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out the Liquid Motion class for the first time or thinking about taking a Liquid Motion certification?

 My advice would be to just do it! Bring a friend if you need a bit of extra support to get out of your comfort zone, but take the plunge, you won’t regret it. The Liquid Motion community is a large family who only wants to see you succeed, whether thats in learning movement for the first time or advancing your journey in teaching. This an inclusive company that is grounded in making sensuality and dance accessible to everyone, why not be a part of something this amazing?

12. In one sentence, share a life lesson you’ve learned – maybe a piece of advice that you’ve always held onto or a random comment you heard in passing that stuck with you. What do you think everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime?

     “However difficult life may seem, there is always something can do and succeed at.”

      -Stephen Hawking

Featured Instructor of the Month: Mel Heins

Mel Heins is co-owner of The Salt Mine, a Pole Fitness Co-Op in Salt Lake City, and leads the Instructor-In-Training Program for the studio. In 2008, at almost 40 years old, Mel walked through the doors of Studio Soiree and quickly became obsessed with the strength and beauty of pole dance. She made it a goal to become an instructor. A year later, she was certified and taught her first class.  With no dance or fitness background, Mel has always had the heart of a teacher. She loves learning new movement, as well as teaching and helping others surprise themselves with what they can do. She is certified in Liquid Motion 1.0, 2.0, and Heels.

1. You’ve been in the Liquid Motion family for quite a while now, almost from the beginning! That gives you a unique perspective on how the company, and the industry as a whole, has changed over the years. Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion and how it has evolved from your point of view.

Oh my! I have been in the pole industry for 11 years now. Teaching for 10. I met Jeni about five years into my pole career when I stumbled upon a free Liquid workshop at Pole Con LA (I think it was the 2nd Pole Con!). There were about 40 of us in that big ballroom. I remember Jeni having us all “go black” – empty our heads by screaming. I had NEVER experienced anything like that in my life. It was super freeing. Then she and Danielle Mayzes took us through the Wall Sequence and the Liquid Crawl. I saw my life change right there. During the freestyle at the end, I was so into what I was doing that I never even made it through the whole sequence. It felt GOOD. I was so FOCUSED, my judgmental thoughts about myself disappeared; it was revelatory, epiphanic. After the workshop I stopped by the booth, where the super-friendly Jeni was perched. I basically forced her to come to Salt Lake City because we needed her. My studio was the very first Liquid Motion Workshop outside of the east coast! I had the opportunity to work with Jeni and Danielle at Pole Expo, offering a helping hand during workshops. This was way before certifications and manuals. We spent downtime rolling around on the hotel room floor playing around with windows and threading, now a fundamental of what Liquid is today! It has been so satisfying watching the company grow and yet still retain the core values that Jeni started with. I actually got super emotional at my 1.0 cert when I opened the manual and saw all the hard work over all the years right there in front of me. I know how much blood, sweat, tears, and hours and hours are in those manuals!

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

I read a book a long time ago about how each of us is a circle. Some people feel like they need to make other people’s circles smaller to make theirs bigger, as if the size of their circle was directly related to the size of someone else’s circle. This book talked about how there is infinite space for us all to grow our circles as big as we want – that someone else’s circle does not determine the size of your own. I am confident that my circle is big, and my job as a teacher – and as a human – is to help others realize the bigness of their own circle. So, that’s my number one directive. When I teach, I make sure each student has a “win” – that moment of shining or getting something with an AH HA! Whether it’s finally activating your glutes or doing an exceptional Buttercup, I will find a way to celebrate that with you. 

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

There have been so many for me; I REALLY love teaching!!! A recent one that sticks out is my starfish class. At the Salt Mine, my Liquid students call the studio “The Liquid Lagoon.” Our lights are blue and it’s dark and lagoon-like. So, a lot of my analogies have to do with sea creatures and the ocean. One day, I was teaching side crunch progressions – relatively simple movement from Liquid 1.0. However, everyone was getting confused and couldn’t figure out which limbs went where. So, I had us all start on our backs in what we call Starfish. I walked them slowly through the side crunch progression, then I said “OH MY GOSH! We are back in STARFISH!!!” We must have done this at least 10 times, just repeating, “Starfish, Crunch, Cobra, Thread, Side Crunch, OH MY GOSH I’M BACK IN STARFISH.” My students all started to yell, “OH MY GOSH, I AM A STARFISH AGAIN!” and various exclamations of Starfishiness. In those moments, I realized how much my students trust me. That I was NOT going to let them fail. They would have continued doing this simple movement for hours if I told them to. Having a room full of people trust you that much is a precious gift that not everyone gets to have. I am so lucky! My Venmo account was full of payments from students with star and fish emojis and “I’m a BEAUTIFUL Starfish” comments. I actually broke down while we were cooling down because I was so grateful. And now, every single student knows those side crunch movements soooooo well!

4. What has been your biggest hurdle or learning experience?

Myself! My fears. My head tries to tell me that I’m not good enough! I took my 1.0 cert in March, and I did not teach my first class until May. Why? Because I had myself convinced that I wasn’t fluid enough and that I didn’t know enough about the methodology to speak authoritatively about it. I wanted to make sure I honored Jeni’s baby! All these crushing thoughts had me delay. Mind you, this is movement I have been following for about 6 years! When I finally taught my first class, I realized what a waste of time that delay was. I had all the tools I needed; I just had to get out of my own doubting head! I still have moments of insecurity, but I acknowledge them, move through them and teach anyway. I prep and train much more since I took my Liquid 1.0 cert. Because we are such a community, I feel like I have a whole team behind me and I need to present my very best self. 

5. You’re a well-established studio owner and instructor. What tips do you have for running a dance-based business, as an owner or as an instructor?

Half of my career has been as an owner; The Salt Mine is celebrating its 5-year anniversary this year!!! As an instructor, my biggest piece of advice is to educate yourself. Take certification programs, watch anatomy lessons and lectures, learn other disciplines (I am TRX and Stott Pilates trained as well as pole and Liquid certified). Take classes from your fellow instructors. Sign up for specialty workshops. This all costs money, so my second piece of advice is KNOW YOUR WORTH! When we opened The Salt Mine, I had been an instructor getting paid $16 per class – with a little extra if I had more than 4 students. Our first decision was that instructors could decide what they were worth. They set their pricing and they make sure their students pay them; they run their own business. This makes me hustle! Students will go to a cheaper studio if I don’t keep in touch! But, this has allowed our instructors to thrive and to make a more livable wage.

As an owner, SAFETY comes first – for your instructors and students. You need to create a place where every person feels ok to be who they are and become who they want to be – and, ya know – fire extinguishers and crash mats and equipment checks and insurance and all that too….

I don’t think anyone just decides to open a pole studio because it is a good business to be in. We open them because we LOVE DANCING! DON’T FORGET WHY YOU OWN A DANCE STUDIO! I take two classes a week from my instructors because I NEED to feel like a student and because I still need to learn how to move. I know we think there is never enough time – so, make time. Remember – YOU LOVE THIS!

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey? Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

I love to perform but have gotten away from that and hope to get back to it. Performing gives me a goal, a focus, and a timeline  If I don’t have that structure, I tend to get a little lazy. As an instructor and studio owner, I don’t make time for myself and my progression.  Liquid has given me so much to learn, and the support and community to help me learn it!  With my Liquid classes, I get to the studio at least an hour ahead of time so I can move through sequences, play around with what moves can flow into the next, work out what conditioning exercises my students need, set the lighting, and get my songs ready. Liquid Motion has given me the desire to better myself.

7. What’s your all-time favorite song that makes you want to get Liquid?

Just one?? OH Lord. I have never been super into music; my pole playlist was the same for years! When I started teaching Liquid Motion at our studio, it turned me into a music junkie! I am always looking for melty songs that move me in some way. I also rely on my students for what moves them! They are all younger than me and have such gems for us. But, the song that I could play on repeat and move to forever to is “Killing Strangers” by Marilyn Manson – something about a heavy drum beat is just so sexy to me.  I usually freestyle to that song.

8. Do you have any hidden talents?

I am a finder of lost things. My adult kids still call me to help them find lost items. I walk them through their memories and help them see exactly where the item most likely will be.  This supernatural ability has my husband thinking I am a witch. I will neither confirm nor deny….

9. You appear to have a positive, empowering approach to life. It’s refreshing and infectious. How do you keep yourself motivated, even when things aren’t going your way?

I am just one big ball of happiness all the time! I love life so much! ALL of it – ups and downs, ins and outs. How do I keep this positive disposition? I remind myself that everything is temporary. The winter? Temporary; spring will come soon. Sadness or grief? It will eventually turn into something else. Even this life – all the good and all the bad – is temporary. So I just go through things knowing they will eventually change. I have always had a spark of joy at my core and I have chosen to fan that spark. I do understand that not everyone has the same verve that I have, but I feel that my job is to share some of my light with those around me – as annoying as that can be sometimes! Some people may think this attitude makes me shallow or a “Pollyanna.” I do still feel deeply and get angry and sad; however, at my core that spark of joy burns super bright.

10. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out the Liquid Motion class for the first time or thinking about taking a Liquid Motion certification?

In certification welcome emails we get from Liquid Motion, there is a list of items to bring – water, knee pads, pen and notebook, etc. The very last item is always the same thing – an Open Mind. This is something I always make sure to tell a first timer. Have an open mind and listen to your body. Just move and don’t judge your movement. 

As for the certs, my students have all heard me rave about the Liquid Motion certifications – about how much you get at the actual cert, the beautiful manuals, the community, the videos, the marketing material. I LOVE it all! I have been through several certification programs in the fitness industry, and nothing comes close to all the perks that Liquid gives us. It really is like a family; we encourage each other, share and lift up….it is much more than just a 16 or 24-hour certification. I could literally go on and on.

I took all three Liquid Motion certs offered (1.0, 2.0, and Heels) within months of each other – March, June, and October. It is a lot! I noticed (and so did my students) that my teaching style changed for the better after I took 2.0! It gave me a lot of confidence in the movement and helped me create my own really great classes. Even though 2.0 was a mental struggle for me, I would not change the way I took the certs.

 

Featured Instructor of the Month: Nicki Royce (Willow)

Nicki Royce, also known as Willow, teaches independently in Dayton, Ohio, and has always been drawn to sensual movement. She feels moving boldly and unapologetically provides freedom in a world that tends to praise smallness and agreeability, especially in women. You can find her class information by searching “Liquid Motion With Willow” on Facebook.

1. As one of our veteran Liquid Motion instructors, you’ve been through the whole Liquid Motion certification process, taking every training program available thus far. That’s an impressive feat! Tell us how you got started with Liquid Motion.

Back in early 2014, while very active and hungry to grow my dance skills, I became struck with agonizing chronic back pain. While in treatment I would do my prescribed Pilates exercises, and after, I found myself exploring floor movement. It felt good, it kept me dancing, but lacked structure. A year later I took a Liquid Motion class in NYC and was hooked. I got certified as soon as the first certification was released.

2. What is your teaching philosophy? Do you have a motto or mantra?

We live in a world that says don’t take up space, be small, be silent, hate yourself, be fearful. But we have the right to take up space, be bold, move and feel freely, and love ourselves. All art is dependent on it. It can be hard to counter those messages, but, be big. Be powerful. Own who you are and own the space you are in.

3. What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?

It’s always an honor to be told someone took ownership of their body, was inspired to create, or felt safe to be themselves due to my class. I especially love when I can witness the transformation before my eyes. Seeing students eventually move closer to the front in class, stand taller, move bigger, dress different, and become a leader to others in the room. Nothing like this really existed in my city when I started, so witnessing the fulfillment of this need I had in myself also get fulfilled in others, really felt like the beginning of a movement.

4. What has been your biggest hurdle or learning experience?

A challenge for me is getting out of my own head and just being present and connected, at times. It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in providing the perfect experience for each class, and I have to let that go to be in the moment fully with others. My biggest learning experience has been paving a path based on my personal values and realize my worth as an instructor and entrepreneur along the way. I think it can be easy as an artist to allow others to assign your value; nobody can do that but you.

5. You’ve created a wonderful student base as an independent instructor. Do you have any tips for others who may want to start teaching in the future?

Fear and doubt love to dress themselves up as excuses. If you have the desire to teach you just have to act on it. Know what you bring, remind yourself often, and continue bringing it. Push through perceived failure. Push even harder on the days you feel like quitting. Know that giving of yourself in this way is very vulnerable, it will change your own dance practice, but it’s insanely rewarding. Also, know your value and make sure you are paid accordingly for your time and expertise. Take risks. Be consistent and reliable. Never stop learning and being open to growth and lessons along the way.

6. What are your goals in your own personal movement journey? Has Liquid Motion had any impact in the way you approach these goals?

I have taught dance for pushing two decades, so my personal goals currently are around rediscovering my own movement practice, exploring, building more style, and simply having fun. I’ve always prescribed to quality over quantity, and Liquid Motion has helped solidify that in me even further. Style, breath, and full articulation of movement are what I love seeing and working on. Liquid Motion has helped me come at all of it in a much more empowered way.

7. What’s your all-time favorite song that makes you want to get Liquid?

I’m music obsessed. The first ones that comes to mind are Liquid Diamonds or Give by Tori Amos. If I’m feeling some kind of way, The Hills by The Weeknd can snap me back to life really fast too.

8. Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m pretty funny. It tends to surprise people once they get to know me since I’m a pretty quiet, observant person most of the time.

9. You are very candid in your social media posts about your personal growth and all the ups and downs that go along with that. It is inspiring to see people being real on a platform that usually lacks true authenticity. How do you think that the dance/pole/movement community can benefit from this kind of approach to social networking?

So many have confided in me over the years about how scary dance is when you didn’t grow up dancing. Pair that with society’s standards of beauty and perfectionism, and it leaves too many not enjoying art, their bodies, or the freedom to learn something new. Knowing of these battles, and fighting my own, I know there’s nothing to gain by pretending I’m immune. When I stand before others to lead I know it isn’t about me. It’s about them, so trying to maintain an image of perfectionism is only going to put an enormous amount of pressure on myself, and discourage those who are observing. It takes courage to start, vulnerability to grow, and persistence to grow skill with an art form. That’s not easy. Giving off the perspective I’m an exception to that formula, when nobody is, isn’t what I want to model for anyone, especially those who need to feel safe with me.

10. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about trying out Liquid Motion for the first time?

I think as an adult, opportunities to play and explore movement can be pretty rare or inaccessible. Our world is also very disconnecting from our full range of senses. Being able to have a safe, accepting space to indulge in these things is truly a gift. So, if you have the opportunity, take full advantage.